Shock response of single crystal and nanocrystalline pentaerythritol tetranitrate: Implications to hotspot formation in energetic materials

Y Cai and FP Zhao and Q An and HA Wu and WA Goddard and SN Luo, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 139, 164704 (2013).

DOI: 10.1063/1.4825400

We investigate shock response of single crystal and nanocrystalline pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) with a coarse-grained model and molecular dynamics simulations, as regards mechanical hotspot formation in the absence or presence of grain boundaries (GBs). Single crystals with different orientations, and columnar nanocrystalline PETN with regular hexagonal, irregular hexagonal, and random GB patterns, are subjected to shock loading at different shock strengths. In single crystals, shock-induced plasticity is consistent with resolved shear stress calculations and the steric hindrance model, and this deformation leads to local heating. For regular-shaped hexagonal columnar nanocrystalline PETN, different misorientation angles lead to activation of different/same slip systems, different deformation in individual grains and as a whole, different GB friction, different temperature distributions, and then, different hotspot characteristics. Compared to their regular-shaped hexagonal counterpart, nanocrystalline PETN with irregular hexagonal GB pattern and that with random GBs, show deformation and hotspot features specific to their GBs. Driven by stress concentration, hotspot formation is directly related to GB friction and GB-initiated crystal plasticity, and the exact deformation is dictated by grain orientations and resolved shear stresses. GB friction alone can induce hotspots, but the hotspot temperature can be enhanced if it is coupled with GB-initiated crystal plasticity, and the slip of GB atoms has components out of the GB plane. The magnitude of shearing can correlate well with temperature, but the slip direction of GB atoms relative to GBs may play a critical role. Wave propagation through varying microstructure may also induce differences in stress states (e. g., stress concentrations) and loading rates, and thus, local temperature rise. GB-related friction and plasticity induce local heating or mechanical hotspots, which could be precursors to chemical hotspot formation related to initiation in energetic materials, in the absence of other, likely more effective, means for hotspot formation such as void collapse. (C) 2013 AIP Publishing LLC.

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